Singer/songwriter and poetic improviser Gordon Downie is one of Canada's most treasured artists. Beginning in 1983, he fronted Kingston, Ontario's beloved trad rock band the Tragically Hip, and Downie's lush and charming lyrical stories have garnered the Hip many fans across the globe, particularly in pockets of New York and Michigan. Downie, however, is the leading force -- not only as a vocalist, but also as an artist. The clarity in his songwriting exudes a passion, a poignant sensibility for the most simplistic and the most complex.
Aside from his band duties, the new millennium saw Downie making time for a solo career. He worked alongside Skydiggers' Josh Finlayson and ex-Odds bass player Steven Drake, to complete and produce his first solo effort, 2001's Coke Machine Glow. Coke Machine Glow, which was also the title of his first book of poetry and prose, was recorded in Gas Station Studios and featured additional help from Barenaked Ladies' Kevin Hearn, bandmate Paul Langlois, and Don Kerr of Rheostatics. A second solo effort, Battle of the Nudes, appeared two summers later, and featured guest spots from Julie Doiron, Josh Finlayson, and members of experimental blues-rock outfit the Dinner Is Ruined. 2010's well-received The Grand Bounce featured production work by Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla, and in 2014, Downie collaborated with the Sadies on And the Conquering Sun. On May, 24, 2016 Downie announced through the Tragically Hip's website that he had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. He continued to tour in support of the band's recently released 14th studio album, Man Machine Poem, culminating in a massive final concert at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston that was streamed and broadcast live via the CBC to an estimated 11.7 million people. ~ MacKenzie Wilson